I've often wondered about Kachina's early history (quick recap for any newer readers: I bought Kachina as a 12 year old from people who had owned her for 4 years, she didn't have papers and the people I bought her from didn't know her breeding or really anything about the first 8 years of her life). Part of it is just simple curiosity, but part of it is a desire to learn more about what makes Kachina tick and why she is the way she is. I've certainly considered trying to find past owners but haven't really had a good place to start with so little to go on. I have tried browsing through old foal photos on websites of breeding operations in the area of Alberta she is from, and pinto breeders from elsewhere, etc. but that was a long shot and hasn't panned out.
Well the amazing happened yesterday, a lady saw a post I had made about the clinic I'm organizing in an Alberta-wide Facebook page, Kachina is in my profile picture (obvs) and she saw the photo and messaged me, here's how that conversation went (only edited to protect identities and add in my thoughts during the exchange)
PO: Hi, your horse looks like someone I used to know a long time ago. Is it a mare? If it's the girl I used to know, just wondering how she is doing... thanks
Me: Hi, she is a mare, 14 years old, name is Kachina (she came to me with that name but I don't have papers so it might have been something else before). I bought her in 2014 from _______ near ________, I think they had her for 4 years but I don't know much about her history from before that. I would be super interested to learn more if she is the same horse!
(Internal me: feeling excited but also keeping my guard up a bit since I have no idea who this woman really is. Figured the best way to start was giving relevant info to see if it was in fact the same horse or not)
PO: Wow it is her!!! Aww, I can hardly believe it!!!
(Internal me: wishes she had revealed how she knew it was her, did she know the lady I bought her from? Or is she just guessing it's the same horse because age and gender match up?)
Me: Super cool! So when/how did you know her? She is doing well. Healthy and happy. We divide our time between trail riding and learning dressage.
(Internal me: you said you used to know her, what does that mean? Like did you own her or just meet her once? Did you know her while the person I bought her from owned her, or from before that?)
PO (Previous Owner): I brought her home as a four year old. She was basically unhandled. She was very scared and didn't trust people at all. The people I got her from didn't touch her until she was a yearling, and when they decided to handle her they chased her until she slipped in the mud, jumped on her when she was down, put a halter on her, snubbed her to a post and proceeded to trim her hooves. I don't blame her for being afraid...
(Internal me: Holy crap, need some time to process this)
(Internal me: That's a heartbreaking story, how could anyone do that to her)
(Internal me: This is awesome that I actually found the person who knows the parts of Kachina's life that I don't!)
(Internal me: Still a little naturally dubious/suspicious)
(Internal me: That explains so much *thinks back to tension related to being tied and to having feet done*)
(Internal me: those moving dots that show someone is writing more were driving me crazy, I was waiting for a few min and was expecting and hoping for a long continuation of the story, instead I just got:)
PO: I spent a lot of time with her, and pretty soon she would come running when I called.
(Internal me: I was hoping for a lot more details, but she's not writing any more so I guess I need to respond)
Me: Wow! That's terrible to hear that she had such a rough start. Might explain why she sometimes still gets tense when tied or for the farrier. How long did you have her? Do you know anything about her breeding? Have any old photos? I'd love to hear more! I can send you some recent photos if you want
(Internal me: I want to know more!)
(Internal me: Must not ask too many questions)
(Internal me: Asking her for old photos is perfect. A) I would love to see them, B) proves that she did actually know Kachina when she was younger and can put my suspicious self to rest (still a little questioning, I don't see motive for fabricating this story, but sometime people are crazy, and it's also possible that we're still talking about two different horse))
PO: The mare she was out of was an Arab thoroughbred cross and the stallion was a registered paint. I don't know what his name was.
(Internal me: Arab? Really?? With her block head? lol)
(Internal me: Darn, I was secretly kind of hoping she had papers or fancy breeding)
(Internal me: The mix does make sense to explain her colour + non-quarter-horse-ness + height + narrowness)
PO: I'd love to see recent pictures! I'll dig around to see if I can find some for you.
(Internal me: Yay!)
PO: Just about brings tears to my eyes knowing she is doing well. I'm so happy for her
(Internal me: still keeping a little guard up until I see photos but there's no harm in me sending photos and some info. What would I feel like if I discovered an old horse I used to own?)
Me: *Sends over a dozen photos of Kachina with captions, including: her pretty head, trail riding, her in pasture with buddies, at liberty, show photos, ride photos from my last lesson, expressive dirt eyebrows after rolling, etc.*
I would love to see any photos you have!
(Internal me: cherry picks good images, want to assure PO that she is in a good home. I would like to get into a deeper conversation about some of her tension and ground work issues at some point, but not the time for that yet)
After not getting any response for a couple hours:
Me: Hopefully those photos sent properly. So how long did you have Kachina? (was that her name when you had her?) Did you do stuff with her other than ground work? I actually just got back from the barn
(Internal me: really trying not to scare her off with 20 million questions but really wanting to ask 20 million questions)
(Internal me: asking about stuff other than ground work both because I'm curious about whether she mostly sat in a field during that time in her life or did other things, and also because I have a bit of data about her level of training when she was 8 years old and I would love to get some info that I can use to determine whether this lady's story checks out)
To be continued....
(I hope, seriously. I'm not dividing this story into parts on purpose, she hasn't replied so I legit don't know how this story ends. So, of course I'm going to make all of you wait in suspense with me!)
I'm still processing. There's a lot of unanswered questions here (a lot!). But it sounds like my horse may have been mistreated pretty badly in her youth. That's quite the bombshell. I went out to the barn last night and just loved on Kachina in her pen. I felt a weird sense of almost possessiveness, maybe like how an adopted parent feels after finding out about their kid's birth parents. In this case, I just found out information about 2 different previous parents Kachina had, 1 bad and 1 good (supposedly), and I don't even know yet whether there were more too (kind of why I asked a couple times about how long PO had her). I'm really really hoping PO continues the conversation with me. I'll let you know!